After an up-and-down first season, Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league will get a boost in Year Two, when FS1 and Fox will air its games live on 10 successive Friday nights. Last summer, FS1 broadcast BIG3 regular-season and playoff games on Monday nights, a day after they were originally played, before Fox carried the championship game live.
BIG3 is a half-court three-on-three league composed of former NBA players, featuring unusual rules such as four-point shots and a 14-second shot clock. Last year, its rosters included prominent former players such as Mike Bibby, Corey Maggette, Kenyon Martin, Jermaine O’Neal, and, most notably, Allen Iverson.
The second season of BIG3 will stretch from June 22 to August 24. FS1 will carry three of the league’s four games each week throughout the eight-week regular season, while Fox will broadcast the playoffs and title game. All games that air on TV will also be available digitally through FSGO.
The move to live broadcasts should help BIG3’s ratings, which were strong at first in the league’s inaugural season, then faded in subsequent weeks. In a world used to watching every event live, the tape delay seemed to be a bit of a turnoff.
“Following the success of FOX Sports’ live broadcast of last season’s BIG3 championship game, we knew we wanted to expand that live access for basketball fans throughout the season,” Fox Sports executive John Entz said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to continue to grow our partnership with the BIG3, and we look forward to another season of exciting basketball with some of the most recognized athletes in the game.”
Fox announced in August it was re-upping with BIG3 for another season, hoping to capitalize on an attractive idea and some big-name stars. Though BIG3’s inaugural-season ratings were not spectacular, they offered an improvement on what FS1 had previously gotten from those time slots, and the league gave the network some original programming in the slow summer months. We’ll find out next summer whether live broadcasts can help the league take a next step.